A Vermont State Police sergeant has been suspended without pay amid an investigation into his social media posts that appeared to support the “criminal insurgency” at the U.S. Capitol, Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said in a statement on Thursday.
Lucas Hall, assigned to the Shaftsbury barracks, allegedly posted the incendiary comments Wednesday from a personal account while off duty, according to Schirling. Hall was hired by the state police in July 2012.
“These actions, if true, have caused pain and anguish on the part of Vermonters during an already indescribably stressful time in our national history and for that we are saddened and sorry,” the commissioner said in his statement.
“Cheers to the great Patriots in Washington D.C.,” he continued. “The time has come… Let’s gooooo!!!”
Someone replied to his post by writing, “there are going to be riots,” beside a sad-face emoji.
“It might be war…” Hall responded. “We are beginning to see good, law-abiding citizens stand against a corrupted Government.”
Schirling said Col. Matthew Birmingham, head of the state police, briefed him on the posts before Schirling ordered Hall’s suspension and an investigation to see “what further lawful personnel actions were immediately available.” The probe should wrap up in “a few days,” according to Schirling, who vowed to “update the public as soon as possible.”
“While we recognize the rights of all people including sworn law enforcement officers to express their views, advocating for the overthrow of the constitutionally defined democratic election process by force or violence violates our oath of office to uphold the Constitution,” Schirling wrote.
Vermont’s top prosecutor, Attorney General T.J. Donovan, echoed that sentiment in an interview Thursday with Seven Days. Donovan said he’d been in touch with Col. Birmingham and hoped that the agency would fire the sergeant if he didn’t resign.
“He can’t be a sworn police officer, sworn to uphold the Constitution, and publicly support or condone a violent overthrow of our constitutionally elected government,” Donovan said. “We can’t tolerate this. We can’t normalize what happened yesterday in Washington.”
Adam Silverman, a Vermont State Police spokesperson, said that any past disciplinary actions involving Hall that might exist would be “confidential as a matter of law.”
But Hall’s on-duty performance has been called into question at least once, according to public court documents. In dismissing criminal charges against a young woman in November, a superior court judge in Rutland wrote that Hall had given “problematic” and inconsistent accounts about his actions during a violent 2018 arrest.
Hall and his partner had initially pulled over a driver for traffic infractions, and a DUI investigation ensued. Hall ultimately pulled a female passenger from the vehicle, threw her to the ground and arrested her for charges of assaulting a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest. The woman, who was coming from a wedding, was in evening wear.
Hall, Judge John Pacht noted, “was very powerfully built and appeared much stronger than” the 29-year-old woman.
In dismissing the charges, the judge documented several instances during the incident that Hall misinterpreted the situation and even escalated it. Pacht also pointed to several times that Hall’s affidavit, his court testimony and video of the incident differed significantly. Even Hall’s partner’s testimony contradicted Hall at least once.
“At a minimum, this matter was mishandled by Sergeant Hall,” Pacht wrote in his 19-page response to a motion to dismiss. At another point, Pacht wrote that if not for Hall’s actions, “the court suspects this entire episode could have been avoided.”
Instead, the woman suffered a concussion along with “bruises, scrapes and cuts all over her body,” the judge wrote. She now has migraines and post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, according to the judge, she was unable to get her teaching certificate in Massachusetts during the 18 months the charges were pending.
Pacht noted the woman “has already suffered significantly from this incident.”
“Given the circumstances of this case and the fact that the officer is not blameless,” Pacht wrote, “there is little purpose in imposing a sentence here.”